Video Game Detox

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There has been a lot in the news about video game and internet addiction.  From the controversy surrounding internet/technology addiction NOT being included in the latest edition of the DSM (for the record, I think it should have been), to the first inpatient treatment program for internet addiction opening in Pennsylvania, to this most recent video showing a boot-camp-style detox program for “internet addicts” in China.

The video is worth watching, it literally brought tears to my eyes watching these young men suffer.

But the real question is, is it necessary? Do we really need detox programs for internet addiction?

China seems to think so…and that makes me wonder if the US isn’t far behind.

What do you think?

Book Review: Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough

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How funny to be reviewing Lori Gottlieb’s book: Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough the day after posting this article on avoiding affairs.  I’m sure there is some deep-seated psychological meaning behind that.  Instead of focusing on my psyche, however, I will turn my attention to Ms. Gottlieb’s book.  Here goes:

I want to start by saying that I consider Ms. Gottlieb a colleague after working with her on this article in the New York Times about therapists and marketing.  In addition to being a fine author and journalist, she is also a therapist herself.  She recently told me that she particularly enjoys working with couples.  Check out her site here.

As for the book, apparently it made a splash when it was released a couple of years ago.  And it isn’t hard to tell why: the title is quite an attention grabber.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure the title is consistent with the book, as it isn’t actually about “settling” – as in marrying someone you don’t like, find irritating, or aren’t attracted to.  Instead, it’s a fun-to-read description on Ms. Gottlieb’s own journey in the dating world.

In the book, Ms. Gottlieb is candid about what it’s like to date in all ages and stages of life (with kids and without, never married and divorced, as a 20-something, and as a 40-something).  As someone who married young, it was a real eye-opener for me to read about the realities of the dating pool past college.  I particularly enjoyed the commentary made by some of the older women she interviewed.  Reading their perspectives on what women experience, put up with, and expect now – versus when they were dating – is one of the highlights of the book.

I did find myself feeling frustrated by the entitled attitude of some of the younger women included in the book.  These are women who expect perfection, devotion, loyalty, and passion from the men they are interested in – yet seem to have no appreciation for what they should, do, or can bring to the relationship.  Fairness, equality and compromise don’t seem to be concepts these women understand.  No wonder their relationships don’t ever seem to work out.

For added perspective, I had my mom read the book.  Here are some of her comments:

In regards to having an attitude of entitlement in romantic partners:

I devoured the book even though I didn’t personally relate to it at all.  I am always shocked at how entitled some people think they are – it must be a difficult way to live life because it seems it would be challenging to maintain friendships, jobs, and relationships when all you can focus on is “what’s in it for me”.

In regards to making a list of desirable qualities in a mate (something Ms. Gottlieb does in the beginning of the book):

I can’t imagine making a list of “wants” in a husband and actually sticking to it.  It’s a good idea to list life goals, vacations you want to go on, clothes you need, etc. – putting those constraints on a human being is beyond my comprehension.  Besides, when you meet a person as a potential husband – that person will likely be quite different after several years of marriage.  The book was fascinating reading.

After finishing the book, I was left with a desire to make a list of my own.  Not of the qualities I would want in a mate, but the qualities that might make me a good mate myself.  I wonder which would be longer?

Thanks, Lori Gottlieb, for introducing me to your book! Click here to buy Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough.

 

Psychotherapy Is Not Dead

Last weekend What Brand Is Your Therapist was published by the New York Times Lori Gottlieb, the author, interviewed me and a couple of other psychologists for the piece.

In her article Ms. Gottlieb writes about her journey as a new therapist setting up a practice in the congested California market.  As she struggles to find clients, she looks to other, more established clinicians for advice.  Some say find a specialty area, others tell her to focus on consultation and/or coaching work rather than traditional psychotherapy, still others (me) tell her to increase her social media presence.

With this advice in mind, Ms. Gottlieb wonders if Americans have moved past the need for psychotherapy, citing statistics indicating that fewer people have sought talk therapy in recent years.  She also wonders if our super-fast, I-want-results-now culture makes the slower paced psychotherapy process outdated.

After stewing about it for a few days, I have gathered my thoughts, and offer this response proving that psychotherapy is not dead, in fact, it is alive and well.  With this caveat: it is essential that we change (at least a little bit) with the times.  Here goes:

Having been married to an architect for nearly 15 years, I have come to know a bit about that profession.  While it may not seem that a psychologist and an architect would have much in common professionally, I have come to realize that we do – and more than it would seem.  In addition to the arduously long training process involved in both fields, many of the current dynamics and changing business models are similar.  Take a look:

Fads Come and Go.  Colonial, craftsman, beaux arts, mid-centurn modern – these are just a few of the hundreds of styles of architecture around us.  While I might like classical design, others might prefer more contemporary; the one thing we can be sure of is that styles, tastes, and fads will change.  This is a good thing in architecture – it makes our communities more interesting.  What is critical, however, is that the structure underneath is sound.  Any architect would agree that a comprehensive understanding of history, as well as a mastery of structural and construction principles is necessary before good design can emerge.

The same is true for us in the field of psychology.  There is nothing wrong with new ideas, and unique and innovative treatments – so long as there is first a fluency in psychological science.  New treatment strategies, rooted in sound science and disciplined training, can (and should!) be constantly flowing into our daily practice.  Would we accept stagnant, non-innovative care from any other field?

Gray and Green – The New Black?  Some architects have continued to design and draw only by hand, have resisted integrating technology into their firms, and have refrained from embracing environmentally sustainable design and materials clamored for by clients.  Guess what has happened to those architects in this tough economy and competitive world? They are no longer practicing – or at least not at the level to which they would like.  Successful firms have had to innovative, be responsive to the marketplace, and have had to find a way to stay productive and flexible in a time when their clients demand more, have shorter time frames, and more restricted budgets.

Psychologists are no different.  To stay relevant and helpful (that is our mission after all) we must also innovate and find new ways to give people what they want (psychological help) and need (psychological health).  A colleague of mine, June Ching, PhD, recently wrote: “I see a…theme with the ‘old ways’ juxtaposed to the newly emerged technological advances. If the mission is still the same, perhaps joining forces with the ‘grey’ and ‘green’ is a viable option.”

Merging The Old School (“gray”) with the New School (“green”) is the only way to continue to provide the type of help and care we all desire.

Everyone Deserves Mental Health.  Most of us can’t afford to live in a house designed by an architect.  Instead, most of us live in houses that were mass-produced by a CAD-wielding draftsman employed by a large construction company.  Yea, it’s kind of a bummer from a design perspective, but guess what?  The roof still keeps out the rain and the walls still keep us warm at night.  And the price is right.

Again, the similarities with psychotherapy are striking.  Therapy is kind of a weird thing.  Sitting in a room with a stranger spilling your guts week after week, while learning little to nothing about said stranger.  Bizarre.  Not to say we strangers don’t have a lot to offer – we do! But psychotherapy isn’t for everyone.  It’s a significant commitment in terms of time and money, and frankly not everyone is helped by talking about their problems.  Some folks prefer the self-help methods of reading books or watching Oprah to aid their mental health.  Others might find comfort at church or in a peer support group.  Still others may prefer to use pharmacological treatment.  Guess what?  That’s OK!

Psychotherapy has never been a treatment utilized by the masses, and my guess is that it never will be.  The great thing is that it gives us lots of opportunities to reach out to folks who will never sit on our couches.  Podcasts, books, blogs, talks, articles in the New York Times – these are all means by which we can get the word out about the importance of psychology and good mental health.  Realizing that the 50 minute psychotherapy hour isn’t our only means of providing solid, responsible, and useful mental health care should make us feel excited and energized to meet folks in need – wherever and whoever they are.   Because in the end, everyone deserves mental health, not just those who meet us on our own, narrow terms.

It is my opinion that psychotherapy is enjoying a particularly robust period in its history.  The stigma against treatment is down, the access to care is up (thanks to changes in the insurance industry, as well as technology) and psychology, mental health, and emotional wellness are a part of the language of everyday life.  Psychotherapy is far from dead – it is very much alive and growing.  It is up to us to determine how and when to best maximize this growth, for our clients and ourselves.

New York Times: What Brand Is Your Therapist?

This article came out in yesterday’s New York Times.  In it the author, Lori Gottlieb writes about some changes and innovations in the field of psychotherapy.  I was lucky enough to be interviewed for the article and have a quote in the middle of the article.  Check it out here.  I am still working on writing up my thoughts about the ideas presented in the article.  Hint: I’m not sure I agree with Ms. Gottlieb’s conclusions.  Stay tuned!

New York Times: 11/25/2012